Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him … -- Hebrews 5:8-9
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
These verses, speaking of Jesus, trouble some people. Wasn’t Jesus perfect in every possible way, sinless and holy and always loved and accepted by God the Father? Yes, He was. How could He be perfected or “made perfect”? In His Person, as the Second Person of the Trinity, He was, without any question, flawless, ideal, and complete. However, He took on flesh, and, though He remained God Incarnate, He had a mission to fulfill.
Personally, I would not have blamed Jesus if He had, after walking among us for a while, said, “They really are not worth saving.” If He had turned away from the Cross, said He wanted to give it up, skip the suffering, and let us all go, I do not believe I could call that choice a sin on the Lord’s part. He would have left us – to quote Oh, Brother Where Art Thou, in a tight spot, but we would not have much room to complain. It’s our own fault.
Still, Jesus would have failed in His mission. He would not have been made perfect in that regard. He could not have been condemned, but He would have, as far as we are concerned, failed. Is the same true for us? Can we be good and righteous failures? Can we be “acceptable” Christians yet miss the mark because we fear and recoil from our own cross?
What I do, in one sense, doesn’t matter much. I am about as unimportant and insignificant as a human can be. I am not called to bear a very large or difficult cross; nevertheless, I do have a cross. There is a reason I am still in this world. I can hold back, look out for myself, not hurt or take advantage of others, avoid scandal, stay out of obvious trouble, maybe even do the occasional good deed, and be thought of as a “good enough” person. When my time comes to die and I stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, I might say that I believed in Him, that I was not much of an adventurer, that I was perhaps a bit fearful and overly cautious and did not much that was very bad and perhaps a little more that was good.
Jesus will say to people with that attitude, No! Be hot or be cold. Do not be lukewarm. Whether our lives are noticed or not does not matter. It does not matter if we are not powerful and influential. It matters only that we are faithful and fully committed. We are called to be like the woman’s alabaster jar of ointment (Matthew 26:7-9) – broken and poured for Christ even if the world’s looks on and calls what we have done foolish and pointless.
Anxiety holds us back from so much. There is a line, sometimes difficult to define, between being wise and being overwhelmed by dread of what might happen. Prudence is a virtue. Cowardice is a sin. What we have to do, no matter how small it seems, may be what no other can do.